Photo: Kim Sarita-Robertson was one of the first people to congratulate ABYC on their initiative to ban Plastic Straws. Here Kim and Frank Atkinson celebrate the news at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club. Photo: Alan Straton
* One small gesture may be the catalyst to a Manganese Ore Free PE Beachfront
* Sailors vote for the environment
* Turtles-1, Plastic Straws-0
* Surf the wave to Turn the Tide on Plastic
The Nelson Mandela Bay, Port Elizabeth based Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) has banned Plastic Straws and issued a challenge to every consumer and business to say; “No to plastic” as the wave to ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ becomes a tsunami.
Inspired by the Volvo Ocean Race yacht, ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic, skippered by Britain’s, Dee Caffari and after a talk by Sustainable Seas Trust Director Dr Tony Ribbink, the decision to move towards a Plastic Free Zone at ABYC by banning plastic straws was unanimously approved by the ABYC Exco on Tuesday 16 January 2018.
“With 350 kg’s of plastic being dumped in the ocean every second, it is projected that there will be more plastics than fish in the ocean by 2050. This pollution is killing millions of marine animals and sea birds each year, damaging sensitive ecosystems, affecting environmental and human health. Aside from lost opportunities the cost to Africa runs in to billions annually,” said SST Director Dr Tony Ribbink at a recent presentation to members and sailors at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club.
Spearheaded by the ABYC’s House Commodore, Frank Atkinson, ABYC has implemented an immediate ban on plastic straws and will move towards a plastic free environment.
Frank says; “All my life I have been fortunate to have lived beside the water – either the Zwartkops River or the beaches of Port Elizabeth. Our activities as kids were sailing, swimming, fishing and gathering bait where I was subjected first hand to the horrors caused by carelessly discarded plastic on the marine and wildlife in general. What really hit home however was a recent screening at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club by Dr Tony Ribbink of a film depicting how floating plastic bags were eaten by dolphins who mistook them for jelly fish and a particularly horrifying look at turtles with plastic drinking straws stuck in their nostrils. Banning of the plastic straws by the club was I felt a small but essential gesture by the club and all who pushed for this move in an attempt to play our part in combating this man mad scourge and our bit to save our seas.”
ABYC Commodore, Alan Straton said; “Whilst competing in the 2000 Cape to Rio race, I witnessed at first hand the pollution floating past our yacht on the current lines and I recall being horrified at the time at the number of toothbrushes floating along with other plastic and even fridges!”
“I commend Frank for this initiative and challenge all other clubs and businesses to take the first step towards a Plastic Free environment by banning plastic straws. After all, all the tenants in the harbour have expressed concern at the pollution caused by the Manganese Ore and it would be hypocritical of us as ABYC to continue to do so whilst enabling other forms of pollution such as plastic straws,” concluded Straton.
The United Nations Clean Seas organisation is utilising the ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ entry in the Volvo Ocean Race to raise awareness and amplify the UN’s Environment Clean Seas campaign throughout the nine months of the race.
During the race around the world the Turn the Tide on Plastic yacht conducts scientific tests on salinity, dissolved CO2 and algae alongside groundbreaking tests for microplastics levels in the Oceans.
Sailors are the ideal group to report back first hand on the effects of plastic pollution on our seas.
Since 1973, the Volvo Ocean Race has provided the ultimate test of a team and a human adventure like no other and is described as the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world, sailing’s toughest team challenge and one of the sport’s Big Three events, along with the Olympics and America’s Cup.
The 2017-18 edition of the Volvo, which started on 22 October 2017, will take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the world, across four oceans, touching six continents and 12 landmark Host Cities, to finish in The Hague during June 2018.
On Volvo Ocean Race Yacht Team AkzoNobel, Olympic sailor Martine Grael said after Leg 3 into Cape Town; “I don’t think I went through a single watch without seeing plastic – even as we raced really south. It was really surprising, and if you see that in the middle of nowhere, imagine what it’s like on the current circles where trash collects.’
Whilst in Cape Town Martine visited the Two Oceans Aquarium’s unique turtle rehabilitation centre which treats injured turtles often washed up on shore and found by the general public. Most of the turtles that arrive at the centre are found to have ingested some form of plastic pollution – this dangerous and toxic material is one of the biggest threats to the turtle species – from big pieces of debris like plastic bags and balloons, to almost-invisible micro-plastics.
“The problem is that once turtles have ingested plastic, they often can’t eat anything else, so they starve,” added Martine.
During the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race a series of Ocean Summits have been organised at a range of stopovers as a key part of the race’s sustainability programme.
The seven Ocean Summits aim to bring together the worlds of sport, industry, government, science and ocean advocates, to showcase innovative solutions and announcements to combat the global crisis of ocean plastic pollution in a combined effort to inspire people to help turn the tide on plastic.
“This is a ground breaking project, bringing sport and science together,” said Dee Caffari, Skipper of Turn The Tide On Plastic, who is leading the team amplifying the United Nations Environment Clean Seas campaign. “As round-the-world sailors, we have seen first hand the growing problem of marine debris and plastic pollution – and now we are collecting reference data for scientists around the globe.”
“People are doing the little things – refusing plastic bags, disposable coffee cups and drinking straws – and through these very simple actions, we can make a big impact,” concluded Caffari.